[Lingtyp] addressing the daughter as Mummy

Uni KN frans.plank at uni-konstanz.de
Thu Aug 20 10:24:12 UTC 2020

I forgot to add a case closer to home:  German ENKEL ‘grandchild’ is the inverse of AHN ‘ancestor’.  Though not synchronically transparent (for most speakers, I believe), ENKEL, < Old HIgh German ENICHLIN, is originally the diminutive of ANO.  Synchronically, there is probably a temptation to relate ENKEL to ONKEL ‘uncle’, but this sound similarity is accidental, ONKEL being borrowed from French.

My etymological dictionary (Kluge’s, with lots of references) tells me that the inversion of ‘ancestor’ (father’s father) and ‘child’s child’ is also found in Slavonic.  Further, in Middle High German, MÜHME/MÜHMLEIN, the diminutive of MUHME ‘mother’s sister’ was used to designate ’sister’s daughter’.

Probably Braun’s and Boeder’s widely read work mentions this too.


> On 16. Aug 2020, at 14:58, Uni KN <frans.plank at uni-konstanz.de> wrote:
> I think this is technically known as “address inversion”.  I remember work on this by Winfried Boeder focusing on the Caucasus (Über einige Anredeformen im Kaukasus, Georgica 11, 11-20, 1988, and probably elsewhere), and it’s covered in a book by Friederike Braun, Terms of Address (Mouton de Gruyter 1988).  
> Frans
>> On 12. Aug 2020, at 21:34, Sergey Loesov <sergeloesov at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Dear colleagues,
>> In various cultures (those I know of happen to be mostly Islamic) the form of address can be copied by the addressee. Thus, when a daughter addresses her mother as “Mummy”, the mother often reciprocates, saying to the daughter something like “yes, Mummy”, or “what, Mummy…” (Same of course with a son and his father.)
>> In particular, I came across this kind of exchange in my fieldwork with Kurdish (Kurmanji) and some contemporary Aramaic varieties in Upper Mesopotamia and Syria, but this phenomenon is also current in the Soqotri language, an unwritten Semitic language spoken on the Socotra Island in the Indian Ocean, southeast of Yemen.
>> Are we aware of explanations for this kind of usage? Are there cross-language studies of this kind of facts?
>> Thank you very much!
>> Sergey
>> _______________________________________________
>> Lingtyp mailing list
>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list